An Interview With the New DAA Executive Director Dewitt Peart

After leading the Downtown Austin Alliance for 18 years, Charlie Betts stepped down as executive director, and in January, Dewitt (De) Peart took the reins of the organization. Movability sat down recently with the DAA’s new director to talk traffic, mobility, and downtown Austin.

Q: What transportation issues do you see as most critical for the DAA and its membership?Screen shot 2015-03-17 at 10.58.35 AM

A: Downtown is surrounded by a number of chokepoints and we need to be able to move people through them more efficiently. First, we need to enhance our transportation system and create more options for people such as a more robust BRT system, and we need to encourage carpooling, biking, telecommuting and flex schedules. We also need to create more transit connections to allow people to move east and west. Additionally, we need to look for creative ways to make transit more effective. Running buses on highway shoulders, which is currently being considered by the Texas Senate, is an example of an innovative solution to use existing infrastructure more effectively.

Q:  What do you see as the biggest transportation challenge for you and the DAA to face over the coming years?

A: If Austin is going to be a world-class city, and maintain the character that makes it a special place, we have to increase the number of people choosing transit options. With that comes the need for a more robust system to serve the entire region.

Q: Do you see any changes in the DAA’s role toward transportation?

A: I see the DAA being a voice in a broader regional discussion and being involved at a higher level of advocacy. We can’t just look at transportation for downtown. Downtown is one element of a region that is desperately demanding a transportation solution. Downtown is a critical component, but it is going to take partners from the private and the public sectors from all over Central Texas to accomplish this.

image via DAA

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